Amanda Somerville is a versatile vocalist, able to fit into a wide variety of styles, as evident from her stints in Avantasia and other groupings with bigger names above hers on the roster. Her own project, titled Amanda Somerville’s Trillium (because we’re not talking about Aina) released their first album in 2011, not exactly to rave reviews, and has been quiet since while Somerville has been plenty busy elsewhere. The follow up, Tectonic, was a long time coming, and finally hit in mid 2018. And it’s supposed to be her time to shine, and show she doesn’t need no Sammet or Kiske to deliver the goods. But what always seems to have been sort of glossed over is the fairly ill fit, musically, that is Somerville and husband Sander Gommans. The man has a background in decidedly more extreme styles of metal, as evident from HDK, whereas Somerville’s very Simone Simmons like vocal style goes much better with a loftier hard rock kind of guitar style, like that of Magnus Karlsson in the surprisingly well fitting Kiske/Somerville project, or the more grandiose symphonic style of Avantasia.
While far from a perfect album, Alloy still did lots of stuff right, including the right personnel in Sascha Paeth, Michael Rodenberg and Simon Oberender. From there, the songwriting style felt like a complementing mix of power metal, symphonic and gothic elements. Not so much on Tectonic, which tries to be grittier and more hard-edged than is needed. Gommans is a fine guitarist - in fact, he’s darn good, and he puts out some hella sweet solos and some high quality riffs strewn like sprinkles on the Trillium icing - but the gritty mindset does Somerville few favors, and Erik van Ittersum’s keyboards should need a higher place in the mix as well as a more prominent role in defining the melodic output, rather than playing background and adding the token symphonic backdrop to Gommans’ guitars. Gommans handles the bass as well on the album, and here there are some liberties taken which certainly do work; tiny little twists and turns in the bass lines that elevate them beyond just following the guitars add a quirky touch that works well.
Problem is, every song here sounds the same. They just plod along doing the same things over and over. Gritty riffs to start off, quickly followed by Somerville entering the state in a high, symphonic flair, but then quickly devolving into the more standardized power metal cruiser that just do things by the numbers. Opening track Time To Shine is likely the best track on here, perhaps because the rest of the album just seems like variations of the same. (Damn, they should have brought back Jørn Lande for a follow up to Scream It.) You’d expect a track named Nocturna to give a dark impression of the night, or Cliché Freak Show to try and stick out in terms of oddity or quirkiness, but nope, they’re more or less the same. Other than that, you’ve got song titles like Stand Up, Hit Me and Fighting Fate; just your every day inoffensive power metal. Not bad, but in no way deserving of more than a single play through, and not the comeback that Trillium would have deserved. Damn, Somerville can do so much better.
Standout tracks: Time To Shine, Shards